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Center for Documentation of Violations in Syria (VDC Syria)

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 14.46.19Location: Primarily Damascus, Syria


The VDC has been monitoring human rights violations in Syria since April 2011. Its mandate is to “monitor and document all crimes and violations against human rights in Syria, and attempt to protect and enhance these rights in the culture of the Syrians.”

The group documents deaths, including names where possible, detainees, those who are missing and those who are kidnapped. It terms those who are killed by government forces as “Syrian martyrs,” but also records regime casualties. Statistics are published on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, with total figures and graphs available on the website.

The database, while not downloadable, is searchable in a number of fields, including “cause of death.” One of the data fields defined as a cause of death is “explosion” which includes deaths caused by IEDs. However, “explosion” does not necessarily mean an IED was the cause of death, for example one “explosion” death is provided as being caused by “the explosion of a cluster bomb from an earlier shelling.”

Extensive information is recorded for each death, with information including, where possible, name, status (i.e. civilian or non-civilian), ID card number, martyrdom location, cause of death and notes. The records also include photographs where possible, and notes which generally contain specific weapon information.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 14.51.57The Center has more than 30 activists in several Syrian cities and regions, and a team of coordinators who live both inside and outside Syria. Those activists inside Syria gather and document information on human rights violations. They also depend on “reliable sources like field hospitals, cemeteries, casualties’ families and some of the media centers.”40 Initial information is collected the day of, or in the days following, an incident.

In the days, weeks, and months after, lists of those who were killed are sent to the field activists to ensure that there are no errors and that as much information as possible is contained in each record.

The data is not broken down specifically enough to determine the number of deaths caused by IEDs in Syria. While such information is contained in the notes of each record, it is not easily searchable. AOAV has previously used data from the Center in an analysis of the gender of those killed by explosive weapons in Syria.

This profile is part of AOAV’s investigation into counter-IED (C-IED) actors around the globe. To see the list of all C-IED actors recorded by AOAV, see here. To see those engaged in the Middle East, the Sahel, North Africa or other highly impacted countries please see here, here, here, and here respectively. This research was made possible by funding from the NATO Counter Improvised Explosive Devices Centre of Excellence (C-IED COE). To read the full report, ‘Addressing the threat posed by IEDs: National, Regional and Global Initiatives’, see here.